The Best Pinball Games From The VPForums.org Website
The vpforums.org website is a virtual treasure trove of digital pinball games that can be played on any PC. Better still, all of the thousands of games are free as well as the software needed to play them. Many of these games feature stunning graphics with play so realistic you'll think you're on a real table. Anyone interested in pinball games owes it to themselves to take a serious look at what this site has to offer.
These digital pinball games are available in the older 8.1 format and the newer 9.1 format. Most of the games are in the 8.1 format, but some of the newer games in the 9.1 format have features that allow them to be adapted to computer gaming cabinets. This pages only deals with 8.1 format games.
Games within this format are either originals or recreations. Original games are games created from scratch by digital pinball game designers. Recreations are games based on actual pinball games such as the most popular game of all time: The Addams Family. These games strive to look as much as possible like the actual pinball games on which they are based. A few do this with amazing detail. Unfortunately, many have such poor graphics and sound quality that they are painful to look at and listen too. That's where this page come into play. It recommends which are worth downloading and which to avoid.
capture of the Attack From Mars game. Although reduced slightly in size
from the original, the clearness and realism of the detail is still obvious. This is a game
whose excellent graphics recommends it.
This is a
screen shot from the Scared Stiff game. Note how blurry the graphics are
and how insubstantial the playfield devices appear. Even though the downloaded
game looks a little better than this, it's still hard to look at so this is one I would
not recommend. It's not just the quality of the graphics, it's also how effectively
the game writer used the available screen space. In this case, not very well.
Each game requires two downloads: the game itself and the rom. The game represents the hardware of the actual pinball game upon which the digital version is based. The rom is a copy of the software in an actual pinball game. Each game has to be matched with a specific rom.
(Although this page does not relate to The Addams Family pinball section in which it's been placed, this section is the closest match available on the website.)
Starting with the 50 highest rated pinball games of all time as listed in the International Pinball Data Base, I tested all the versions of each game and rated them by the quality of the graphics, sound and playability. The list below presents what I found. If you want try the best recreation games on the vpforums.org website, this list will get you off to a good start. (Note: the following reviews were made in September, 2013. New 8.1 games may be posted after this date.)
1. Twilight Zone - the graphics were so blurry and the playfield so crowded it was almost impossible to enjoy this highest rated of all games.
2. Star Trek: The Next Generation - Excellent graphics and good sound. There's not much humor in the soundtrack and it's almost impossible to hit what you're aiming at with the cannons but it's still one of the top recreations available. The best version is sttng_v2.2_JPG-PINS with the sttng 17 rom. This one comes in as number three on my best-of-all list.
3. Medieval Madness - The graphics are very weak but the game is so much fun I could tolerate it. The soundtrack features a lot of humor, but is a little hard to understand. I recommend the Medieval_Madness_JP_5.11 version with the mm_109 rom.
4. Monster Bash - All versions had such weak graphics it was painful to play. I recommend avoiding this one.
5. Theater Of Magic - This is one of my favorite real pinball games. Unfortunately none of the versions available look good enough to play.
6. The Addams Family - I had hoped that the most popular pinball game of all time would have had at least one first rate vpforums recreation. I hoped wrong. The best is the AddamsFamilyGold_PD_1.2 version with the taf 16 rom. Even this one has barely tolerable graphics and has some design flaws that allow the player to make shots impossible on a real table. Still, the original game is so much fun this one might be worth getting.
7. Tales Of The Arabian Nights - The TOTAN_JP_SALAS_GRONI_1.2 version with the totan_14 rom has some of the best digital graphics available in a game that's both interesting and fun to play. This one's a must-have game. I'd rate this as the second best digital pinball recreation game available.
8. Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure - All versions had very poor graphics.
9. White Water - All versions had graphics that were too poor to let me enjoy the game.
10. Circus Voltaire - All versions had poor graphics.
11. The Lord Of The Rings - The graphics were soft but the playfield layout is plain enough to compensate for this a little. Much of the writing is impossible to read, but then most players don't read it anyway. I found the best version was LOTR_v2.1_JPG-PINS running the lotr rom.
12. Attack From Mars - Absolutely the best! The AFM_2.2_JPG-PINS version with the AFM_113b rom has the sharpest, clearest graphics of any of the hundreds of vpforums games I've tested. The sound track is clear and the game is one of the funniest to play. If you only have one digital pinball game on your computer this should be it.
13. Scared Stiff - All versions had poor graphics. This combined with a text-crowded playfield made the game hard to look at.
14. Creature From The Black Lagoon - The best looking version is Scapinos_CFT_BL_v1.0 with the cftbl rom, but even it's a little soft. The audio is irritatingly buzzy and the rock-and-roll background music doesn't seen to fit, but over all it isn't too bad. I could not get the coin door to open.
15. Cactus Canyon - All versions had poor graphics.
16. No Good Gofers - All versions had poor graphics.
17. Funhouse - The only version I could find was in the ".rare" format, for which I don't have the software to open. All the other 8.1 games I've tried are in the more common ".zip" format.
18. The Simpson Family Party - Very clean, sharp graphics. I found the music track to be a bit tedious. The best version is TSPP_v1.5_JPG-PINS running the simpprty rom
19. Spiderman - I was surprised to discover there wasn't a version of this pinball game available.
20. Judge Dredd - All versions had poor graphics.
21. Jurassic Park - All versions had poor graphics.
22. The Machine: Bride of Pinbot - All versions had poor graphics.
23. Getaway: High Speed II - I like this game for no other reason than I love the magnetically accelerated racetrack. But even the best version had soft graphics and the all important accelerator ramp is almost impossible to hit. The sound track is one of the most tedious and annoying ever put in a pinball machine.
24. Fish Tales - All versions had poor graphics.
25. Whirlwind - All versions had poor graphics.
26. Red & Ted's Road Show - While most of the text graphics looks a little fuzzy, the mechanical elements of the playfield of the Roadshow_Jamin_1-11 version with the rs_16 rom look sharp and I rate it as the best version available. The game itself has a childish feel to it, though I have to admit the two large talking heads with their mouths synchronized to the dialog are a hoot.
27. Revenge From Mars - Not available.
28. Bram Stoker's Dracula - Not available.
29. The Shadow - All versions had poor graphics.
30. Diner - All versions had poor graphics.
31. Taxi - All versions had poor graphics.
32. Ripley's Believe It Or Not - The Ripley's_Believe_It_Or_Not_JP_5.3 version running the ripleys rom was very clean. The sound was good and the table looks good and interesting. This would be a good one to try.
33. Indianapolis 500 - All versions had poor graphics.
34. Guns N' Roses - The best version was Guns_And_Roses_LordHiryo_JPDALAS_v3.2 with the gnr_300 rom. While the graphics weren't as stellar as Attack From Mars, a simple playfield made up for any shortcomings. As expected from the title, the background music is harsh and may not be to everyone's taste.
35. Pinbot - All versions had poor graphics.
36. Terminator 2: Judgement Day - All versions had poor graphics.
37. Cyclone - All versions had poor graphics.
38. High Speed - All versions had poor graphics.
39. Elvira and the Party Monsters - A simple table helps the soft graphics. What's interesting is that the game has a better look-down angle than all the other. I found play to be a little lame, but it might be worth a look. I recommend the Elvira_and_the_Party_Monsters with the eatpm_14 rom.
40. Stargate - Not available.
41. AC/DC (Premium) - Not available.
42. Tales from the Crypt - Graphics were very soft.
43. Who Dunnit - While the graphics were barely tolerable, this isn't a game I can recommend. The back third of the playfield is so dark it's impossible to see what's going on. Play is a little boring. If you want to try it use the Who_Dunnit_Jamin_1_21 with the wd_12 rom.
44. Swords of Fury - Poor graphics.
45. The Party Zone - All versions had very soft and fuzzy graphics.
46. Black Knight - All versions had weak graphics.
47. The Who's Tommy Pinball Wizard - Not available.
48. Banzai Run - Not available.
49. Batman - Poor graphics.
50. Pirates of the Caribbean - Not available.
While I could not recommend most of these 50 games because to my eyes the graphics were too blurry to enjoy the game, I still wish to commend all the creators who invested so much time writing them. Even the simplest vpforums recreation playfield takes an enormous amount of time and expertise to make. Everyone who enjoys these games owes a great debt of gratitude to these gamesters.
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